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An Eye for An Eye?

Four commercial airliners hijacked by suicidal terrorists and turned into weapons of mass destruction killed thousands of U.S. citizens at the World Trade Center In New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and aboard the planes. Why did such mass terrorism rend the fabric of America's innocence? When I saw the second airliner crash into the other World Trade Center tower on network television, my mind flashed back three weeks to a TV story from Hebron near Jerusalem in the "war zone" of the Israeli-Arab conflict. I remembered the sickening feeling I experienced when I saw elated Arab youths, who appeared to be about 10 to 14 years of age, as they cheered beneath picture posters of deceased Arabic suicide bombers. With tears in my eyes I told my wife that the youths said they couldn't wait to be old enough to become suicide bombers like the "martyrs" on the posters who had gone on to "paradise." With the sort of idolization and admiration that American youth reserve for sports heroes one of them said he wanted to die for his peoples' cause more than anything else because, "the Israelis are going to kill us all anyway."

From the great medieval Crusades of the "Christians" to slaughter the Arabs and capture the Holy City of Jerusalem from the "infidels," to the interminable bloody conflict over Jerusalem and "The Holy Land" between Jewish Israelis and Islamic Arabs, the senseless slaughter and madness continues.

Billions of U.S. tax dollars supply the sophisticated weaponry of the Israelis and the armed forces of Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and Egypt while the U. S. defense industry makes big profits. The U.S. dominated energy cartel uses Middle-Eastern conflict as an excuse to charge exorbitant prices to an energy dependent world and increase their revenues. If the U.S. declares war and attacks oil-producing Arabic countries in retaliation for the "Attack on America," the weapons industry will rake in even more profits, the energy industry will have an excuse to charge more for their products and the big media conglomerate's ratings and profits will soar over the coverage of the violence and carnage of war.

Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the "Attack on America", is the billionaire son of a former Saudi Arabian laborer who got rich doing construction business for the oil industry there. Bin Laden was recruited and trained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to be a leader in fighting the Russians in the Afghanistan War. This area is vital to U.S. based energy interests because it is near the oil rich Caspian Sea area. Since then bin Laden claims to be totally disenchanted with the U.S. because of our support for Israel and our use of our military and economic power against Arabic people in places like Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza. Bin Laden has said that the taxpaying citizens of the U.S. who fund the destruction of Arabic people are not "innocents."

Many of our leaders who are calling for a "declaration of war" against "evil people" who perpetrated the terror "against America" are responding to the primal human folly of revenge that has caused more human suffering than anything. The real evil is to answer hatred with hatred and killing with killing. Whether we kill other human beings because of religion, nationality, race, ethnicity or whatever, the real evil is the notion that more killing is the answer. Like President Bush, our thoughts and prayers are with those who died from Tuesday's terrorism and their families and friends. As one who professes to pray to Jesus every morning in the oval office, I hope our President will heed the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount who said, " hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" ..."but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

A few weeks ago at our Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship in Columbia, South Carolina we were brought a message by a Middle East historian from the University of South Carolina. His topic was the Islamic claim to Jerusalem and he related how the Islamic religion recognizes Muhammad as the ultimate and the last great prophet. Other great prophets of Islam were Jewish leaders like Abraham and Solomon and Jesus. According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad ascended to Heaven from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to join the other great prophets. Why can't this wonderful myth of inter-religious unity be employed by political and religious leaders as a building block for peace to end the longest and most bloody struggle in the history of modern civilization???

Rather than declaring war and continuing the escalation of "eye for an eye" killing why doesn't President Bush convene a peace conference in Jerusalem with all the leaders of the nations and religions involved. He could declare the biblical "New Jerusalem" and gather at the Temple Mount with these powerful leaders who always seem to call on the poor people to fight and die in the madness of mortal combat. We need to work harder than ever before for peace. We must convince our fellow human beings that there is no difference among people anywhere worth killing one more person over.

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Tom Turnipseed

Tom Turnipseed

Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC. His blog is

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